Statcast shows how Story set homer mark
Shortstop led all hitters in Spring Training with 91.7 mph exit velocity
We've spent a lot of time over the past year extolling the virtues of baseball's incredible new crop of talent at shortstop: Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Francisco Lindor, Xander Bogaerts, Addison Russell, etc. Perhaps we missed a name on that list: Colorado's Trevor Story has four homers in his first
We've spent a lot of time over the past year extolling the virtues of baseball's incredible new crop of talent at shortstop: Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Francisco Lindor, Xander Bogaerts, Addison Russell, etc. Perhaps we missed a name on that list: Colorado's Trevor Story has four homers in his first three big league games, and not only that, he's done it off of real live accomplished big league pitchers in Zack Greinke (twice!), Shelby Miller and Patrick Corbin.
That's a good start! That's a great start, actually, and a historic one -- Story is the first hitter in the modern era (since 1900) to homer in each of his first three big league games, the most recent coming in a 4-3 win over the D-backs on Wednesday. While acknowledging the massive caveat that Story is not this good (because no one is) and that he'll stop hitting home runs at some point (because he's human), it's worth wondering if we should have seen at least a little of this coming, because it's not as if Story simply began crushing baseballs on Opening Day.
Maybe you're thinking of the 20 homers and .514 slugging percentage Story put up at two levels of the Minors last year, and that's certainly true. But even before this homer barrage, he was on our spring radar: As we noted over the weekend when we looked at big Statcast™ storylines headed into the season, Story was so impressive during camp that he led the 31 hitters who had at least 10 tracked baseballs with a 97.1 mph exit velocity.
It's not like Story's dingers have been well-placed wall-squeakers, either. Look at the exit velocities and launch angles of the four shots:
1. Greinke -- 102.5 mph, 28 degrees
- Greinke -- 106 mph, 29 degrees
- Miller -- 107 mph, 30 degrees
- Corbin -- 108.8 mph, 24 degrees
For context, the Major League average exit velocity in 2015 was 88.7 mph. For even more context, research by Dr. Alan Nathan has concluded that "flyball distance reaches a maximum at launch angles in the vicinity of 25-30 degrees," which is a more complicated way of saying that that hitting the ball hard at that angle is really, really good. How good? When Major League teams hit balls at 100 mph or more at an angle between 25-30 degrees last year, they merely ended up with an .880 batting average and a 3.336 slugging percentage. (Yes, really.)
Gif: Trevor Story two homers
It's that combination of perfect angle and excellent velocity that has allowed each of Story's most recent three home runs to exceed 430 feet, and that means that in half a week, he's reached a power mark that most shortstops didn't do during the entirety of last season:
Shortstops with at least three home runs of 430 feet in 2015
1. Ian Desmond, 7
- Jung Ho Kang, 6
- Troy Tulowitzki, 5
- Correa, 5
- Jhonny Peralta, 3
That's it -- five shortstops all last year to do what Story has done in about 96 hours. But even that comes with a caveat. Desmond is now an outfielder for Texas. Five of Kang's homers came while he was playing third base, and he's not likely to play much shortstop in 2016 when he returns from injury.
So will Story keep this up? No, of course not. But he's already made his mark in the history books… and keep this in mind: He's not even had the pleasure of hitting in Coors Field yet. You can probably assume we haven't seen the last of Story's 430-feet homers.
Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast. He has previously written for ESPN Insider and FanGraphs.